Shirley Trevena RI

Shirley Trevena was born in Brixton, London, and now lives in Shoreham by Sea. She has had no formal art education.

 Her paintings are exhibited each year at the Mall Galleries, London and at the Sussex Watercolour Society’s exhibitions, for which she was President for 2015-2016. In 2010 she exhibited as a special guest at the 7th International Watercolour Festival in Antwerp, Belgium. In 2011 she exhibited as one of 5 international watercolour artists at the St Cyr sur Mer Biennale in the south of France. In 2014, as a finalist, her work was exhibited at the World Watercolour Competition Exhibition in Narbonne, France. In 2016 she exhibited as one of the invited ‘top 20 foreign watercolour Master artists of the world’ in the International Watercolour Exhibition in Jimo Qingdao, China. In 2018 she exhibited in Masters of Watercolour 2018 in St Petersburg, the largest international watercolour exhibition in Russia.

 In 1994 she became a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours and was an elected member of the RI Council, (1995-1999) and was re-elected for the period 2001-2004. In her first year she won the prestigious Winsor & Newton Award and in her second year she was winner of the Llewellyn Prize. In 2007 she won the John Blockley Prize. In 2017 she won the Winsor & Newton Award for the second time.

 She has run successful workshops in Italy, France, Brighton, Yorkshire and at the Mall Galleries in London.

 In 2004 she had a book published by Harper Collins called ‘Taking Risks with Watercolour’, which was shortlisted for the ‘Artist Choice Book of the Year 2005’, and has sold over 25,000 copies. Her second book on colour, ‘Vibrant Watercolours’, was published in October 2006 and was also shortlisted for the ‘Artist Choice Book of the Year 2007’. Her third book ‘Breaking the Rules of Watercolour’ was published in 2012 by Batsford Press and her fourth book ‘Shirley Trevena’s Watercolours’ was published in August 2015 by Batsford Press. She has produced 3 DVDs, Taking Risks with Watercolour, Breaking the Rules of Watercolour and My World of Watercolour.

 Limited editions of her work include lithographic prints published by Curwen Studios, London, and silkscreen prints published by CCA, Continental Art Holding for Japan and the Orange Street Gallery in Uppingham.

“My paintings are mainly of domestic settings using objects that I have collected over the years for their specific colour or shape. Frequently a painting begins with just the desire to see two fabulous colours nudging up against each other. There has to be a visual excitement towards my subject matter and I try to pass this involvement on to my viewer.

 My work appears to be painted very freely with loose brush strokes, but there is a strong discipline underpinning it all, giving attention to detailed balance and movement, always with a strong compositional structure.

 I work quite slowly, building up the surfaces, concocting a muddled perspective, fractured and disjointed picture planes and describing objects, which begin at strange places and end nowhere at all. Implying things rather than explaining them. Above all I want the paintings to reveal themselves slowly, remaining interesting over time, to exist beyond that first hit of glorious colour.”

For more examples of her work go to

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